How to Counter Developer InfluenceI must express serious...


January 29, 1995

How to Counter Developer Influence

I must express serious reservations on the recent nomination of Arden Holdredge for the position of director of planning and zoning for Harford County.

While I acknowledge Ms. Holdredge's credentials as being impressive, her well-known, close association with the development community leaves me questioning her objectivity if she is appointed director of planning and zoning, which I consider the second-most powerful policy-making position on land use in the executive branch.

Ms. Holdredge claims her critics overestimate the power she would have if she is appointed director. She claims that she is merely enforcing regulations that were laid down many years before.

What Ms. Holdredge does not elaborate on was the fact that one of the most important tasks of the director is to interpret those regulations, which are often complex in nature.

Given her close association with the development community, I find her in a serious conflict. A serious investigation is warranted to see if any conflicts of interest exist. I firmly believe that someone not so closely connected with "the established order" in the county should be brought in, offering a new perspective. The talent is out there. I do not believe that a thorough enough search was made.

The development community, after heavily financing the campaigns of the county executive, and five of the seven council members (including the council president), will be further fortifying its renewed position in Harford County government with what I feel will be a routine appointment.

The only potential outlet that I see for the citizens of Harford County to have an impact within the development process are in the community-based planning advisory councils that are being initiated by the county executive.

There are three pilot councils now being organized throughout Harford County (13 are ultimately proposed). With my concerns over land use, I asked for and received an appointment to one of those pilot councils (Emmorton-Abingdon). I encourage more citizen participation in these councils.

I found it surprising that the county executive would pursue the idea of community-based planning councils because this surely runs contrary to the wishes of many of her contributors in the 1994 election campaign.

The county executive seems to attach great importance to them, and I will make every effort to work with the other members or the Emmorton-Abingdon planning advisory council to see if we really can make a difference.

Bruce Wells


Maryland's Loss

Maryland is in bad shape.

Our taxes are too high, our educational system is in shambles, violent crime is out of control and our economic base is shrinking.

4 Our welfare system is non-productive and abused.

All of our misfortunes have occurred during the "watch" of the present administration and political party.

We continue to spend with abandon, ignoring all budget restraints. We permit the students to run our schools, and our approach to violent crime is to legislate against the law-abiding.

Our tax and business restraint policies are driving employers out of the state.

Public housing is a disgrace, we can't control benefit payments or collect payments due dependent families.

So what is the answer? Can the voters change it?

A candidate for governor appeared and presented an honest, thought-out plan to make the needed changes -- clear logical proposals.

Those of us who are privileged to know Ellen Sauerbrey have no doubts about her honesty, integrity and ability to do exactly what she proposed.

Of course, she first had to get the job.

What happened?

A money-laden "snake oil salesman" appears and is joined on his "medicine wagon" by many in the media who gleefully distorted her program and blew smoke over the issue. Together, they succeeded in so confusing the voters that they chose to vote for the lies rather than the truth.

The voters voted for the "snake oil" and rejected the curing medicine. The patient remains on the critical list.

It's too early to say "I told you so," but time will confirm that spending habits are hard to break and business-as-usual remain as acceptable watchwords.

I hope that this obituary is premature, but then, how many chances do we get?

If everyone had voted purely on the record, Ellen would have lost only four votes statewide. (Parris, his wife, his campaign manager and William Donald Schaefer.)

I grieve for the state. I fear for its future.

/# Four years is too long to wait.

Fred C. Lange

White Hall

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